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Opticstar DS-616C XL
6.1 Megapixels - 1.8" CCD - TEC Cooled - Hardware Gain - Video Mode
Opticstar DS-616C XL
  • 1.8" Sony ICX413AQ Interline Colour CCD
  • Resolution: 6.1 Megapixels, 3032x2014
  • No Infra Red filter
  • Colour Binning: 1x1, 2x2, 4x4
  • Thermo-Electric Cooling & Fan
  • Cooling to 30ºC below ambient temperature
  • Hardware Gain - up to 100% sensitivity boost
  • Hardware Black Level
  • Preview / Focusing @ 1 frame per second
  • Ragged aluminium construction
  • Semi-Video mode for real time Deep Sky
  • StarView mode
  • Bundled Software:
    • Nebulosity v2
    • Plugin for AstroArt
    • Plugin for MaxIm DL
  • Computer Requirements:
    • Microsoft Windows (32-bit & 64-bit) XP/Vista/7/8/10
    • USB 2.0 port
Opticstar DS-616C XL suitability.
Opticstar
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Opticstar DS-616C XL
Package includes: (Usual price: £1299.00)
  • Opticstar DS-616C XL 6.1 mega-pixel colour CCD camera.
  • 2" Nosepiece to attach to telescope.
  • T-threaded ring adapters to attach SLR type lenses.
  • 1.8 metre USB cable.
  • High quality regulated PSU. 2A; DC:12V; AC:100-240V for Europe, USA etc..
  • Software on CD:
    • Nebulosity v2 software for camera control and image processing.
    • DS-616C XL Plug-in for Nebulosity v2.
    • DS-616C XL Plug-in for AstroArt.
    • DS-616C XL Plug-in for MaxIm DL.
  • Printed Set-up guide.
Optional Accessories
Opticstar PX-125C imager & guider (USB 2.0). + £99.00
Opticstar AR80S Guidescope. + £99.00
Order No. Price (inc_VAT) Shipping Delivery click to purchase
OSRDS616CX £ 899.00 £ 10.00
Setup Guide
(July 2012, PDF)
Sony ICX413AQ
(PDF)
Nebulosity v2
User Manual (PDF)
Opticstar CCD Cameras
(Brochure, PDF)

Outline
Not all 6 mega-pixel T.E.C. cooled astronomy cameras are created equal. The DS-616C XL is in a class of its own with 50% higher sensitivity in real-world applications (100% maximum) than other cameras using the same Sony CCD due to its hardware gain and outstanding hardware noise suppression, both features implemented in the camera hardware which is the only way to deliver the additional performance. Black Level is also implemented in hardware and is user set, it helps to effectively reduce dark noise levels prior to the data being sent to the computer.
Gain versus noise.
Showing the correlation between the Opticstar DS-616C XL's Gain level and sensor noise.

The new Opticstar XL cameras use precision machined heavy duty alloy cases that provide unparalleled solidity and support sensor orthogonality. The camera uses long-life, high quality seals and offer 99%+ camera window transparency. A substantial heat-sink (over five to ten times the mass of the typical heat-sink in comparable cameras) rapidly draws the heat away from the sensor via a powerful Peltier thermocouple for superior performance. This heat is then rapidly dissipated into the atmosphere with the assistance of a fan thus bringing noise levels down to an absolute minimum.
Opticstar DS-616C XL star product of the year.
The Opticstar DS-616C XL has earned the annual star product award from Astronomy,
the world's best-selling astronomy magazine. Read about it in the September 2013 issue.

The huge Sony 1.8" format CCD sensor offers an unusually wide field of view (~13 times the sensor area of a 1/2" sensor typically found in top of the range astronomy video cameras) allowing exceptionally large targets like the Andromeda Galaxy to approximately fit on the DS-616 XL sensor at 1000mm focal length i.e. 8" f5 telescope.

Opticstar DS-616C XL sensor size comparison.
Demostrating the large size of the Opticstar DS-616C XL's Sony ICX413AQ CCD sensor.

Focus and preview modes run at a maximum 1 frame per second (at 6 mega-pixels) which is several times faster than other single shot astronomy cameras, this makes accurate focusing markedly easier to achieve.

The proprietary StarView mode enables semi real time viewing of deep sky objects in colour with an 1600% sensitivity boost with exposure times at up to 10 seconds, a very useful feature not available to other manufacturers' single shot cameras! As with all colour Opticstar CCD cameras, binning modes are supported at 2x2 and 4x4 in full colour.

Opticstar DS-616C XL dimensions.
The DS-616C XL offers the functionality of single shot, long exposure large sensor cooled camera with features found in long exposure video cameras while delivering superior performance. Coupled with the real-time viewing ability the Opticstar DS-616C XL presents the ultimate astronomy cooled colour camera.

Bundled with the camera, is a mains power supply unit to power the thermo-electric cooling sub-system, hard carry case and adapters to attach the camera to the telescope. The camera also includes the Opticstar View camera control software, Nebulosity v2 camera control and image processing software as well as drivers for MaxImDL and Astroart.

The camera is ready to use out of the box, all you need is a telescope.

Opticstar DS-616C XL.
The DS-616C XL shown with the nosepiece attached and without.


Sample Astronomical DS-616C XL Images
Please click on the images below to expand to their full size.
Sample image. Sample image.
M42 nebula by Gary Palmer, Wales.
DS-616C XL & 130mm ED Refractor.
25m exposure time.
Click image to enlarge to 2780 x 1946 pixels.

M20 nebula by John Haunton.
DS-616C XL & 10" RC with Focal Reducer F0.67.
240s x 15 frames plus dark frames and flat frames.
Click image to enlarge to 3032 x 2014 pixels.

Sample image. Sample image.
M16 nebula by John Haunton.
DS-616C XL & 10" RC with Focal Reducer F0.67.
240s x 20 frames plus dark frames and flat frames.
Click image to enlarge to 3032 x 2014 pixels.

M42 nebula by John Haunton.
DS-616C XL & 66mm ED refractor.
Click image to enlarge to 1516 x 1007 pixels.

Sample image. Sample image.
M8 nebula by John Haunton.
DS-616C XL & 10" RC with Focal Reducer F0.67.
Click image to enlarge to 3032 x 2014 pixels.

NGC104 by John Haunton.
DS-616C XL & 10" RC.
60s x 30 frames.
Click image to enlarge to 3032 x 2014 pixels.



Nebulosity v2 Software
Nebulosity is designed to be a powerful, but simple to use capture and processing application for a wide range of astronomy CCD cameras. Many cameras are supported for capture and images from just about anything can be processed (support for many FITS formats, PNG, TIFF, JPEG, CR2/CRW, etc). Its goal is to suit people ranging from the novice imager who wants to create his or her first images to the advanced imager who wants a convenient, flexible capture application for use in the field.

In it, you get a host of purpose-built, powerful tools to make the most out of your images (e.g., Digital Development Processing, traditional alignment/stacking (equatorial and alt-az), Drizzle alignment/stacking, Bad Pixel Mapping, LRGB tools, real-time tricolour histograms for colour balancing, star tightening via edge detection, adaptive scaling of stacks, 32/96-bit accuracy, etc.)

Click to enlarge.
Nebulosity's user interface for Windows.

Nebulosity Features
  • Simple, but powerful interface.
    • All basic controls are present on the main screen. No need to navigate through lots of menus during an imaging session. Nebulosity was designed to be easily operated in the field by someone who actually operates it in an actual field.
    • By default, all displays are auto-scaled. Any scaling (including inverted) of the data onto the display possible using easy sliders.
    • Histogram gives a quick view of how much of the valid data range is being used during each capture.
    • Pixel statistics / area statistics pop-up window.
    • Zoom button lets you rescale the displayed image quickly.
    • Measure Distance tool lets you measure the distance (CCD pixels, arc-seconds, or arc-minutes) among up to 3 points.
    • Can act as a FITS file viewer for Windows (double-click or drag-and-drop).
    • Can write / run scripts to automate captures.
    • Unlimited undo/redo (0, 3, or unlimited levels of undo).
    • Small clock to show local time, UTC, GMST, local sidereal, or Polaris RA.
  • Capture control.
    • All basic capture parameters present on main screen. Duration of exposure, number of exposures per captured series, delay between captures, name of series, camera gain and camera offset all in one simple panel.
    • Times may be specified in either seconds or milliseconds.
    • Quick Preview button captures one frame with current settings and displays it on the screen without saving. Helps in focus, composition, and tuning of capture parameters.
    • Frame and Focus mode: Loops a quick, binned image to assist in rapid initial focus and framing.
    • Fine Focus mode: Loops a very quick image around a selected star in full resolution to fine-tune focus.
    • Capture one-shot colour in RAW CCD format or reconstruct colour on the fly ñ your choice.
    • Automatic setting of camera offset.
    • Capture status able to be shown in large red display for easy viewing when away from computer.
  • Multiple file formats supported.
    • Read virtually any FITS file to process images from virtually any camera (RGB colour, black and white, compressed or uncompressed, any bit depth).
    • Captured data saved in FITS as 16-bits (0-65535) per colour channel, 32-bit floating point per colour channel, or in 15-bits (0-32767) per colour channel.
    • One-shot colour data captures may be saved in RAW CCD format or as reconstructed full-colour images in an RGB FITS format (Maxim / AstroArt style or ImagesPlus style) or 3 separate FITS files (the latter only for capture and subsequent use in other programs).
    • Captured data saved in either lossless compressed FITS according to the FITS standard or uncompressed FITS.
    • These same save formats available for any loaded image, making Nebulosity serve to convert between many FITS formats (just select your output format using the settings on the Preferences menu).
    • Save current displayed image in BMP or JPG format (24-bit colour) as displayed.
    • Save current image in 16 bit/colour (48-bit colour) uncompressed TIFF, compressed TIFF, or PNG (compressed) format.
    • Load Canon CR2 format RAW (Rebel XT, 20, 20Da, 5D, etc) and Canon CRW format RAW as pure Bayer-matrix RAW data.
    • Load 8/24 bit PNG, TIFF, JPG, and BMP (scaled to 16/48-bit) or 16/48-bit PNG and TIFF.
    • Batch convert from FITS to 16/48-bit PNG or compressed TIFF.
    • Batch convert from CR2, CRW, PNG, TIFF, JPG, and BMP to FITS.
  • Internal calculations.
    • All data stored internally in 32-bit floating point per colour channel. For B&W or RAW images, this equates to 32-bits and for colour images, this equates to 96-bits in all math routines. You will never have overflow (saturation) or overflow or quantization issues as a result.
    • Critical math routines computed in double-precision (64-bit per channel) floating point.
    • Since all captures even from one-shot colour cameras can be done in B&W mode (RAW CCD data) and since memory for colour images is only allocated when viewing in colour, memory requirements can be reduced by capturing one-shot colour data in RAW format for machines with less RAM.
    • All calculations done using pointer arithmetic for high-speed operation.
  • Image processing.
    • Dark / flat / and bias frame pre-processing of B&W, RAW one-shot colour, and RGB one-shot colour sets of images.
    • Auto-scaling of dark frames to compensate for differences in exposure time or temperature.
    • Create and apply Bad Pixel Maps as an alternative way of removing hot pixels.
    • Versatile Levels / Power Stretch tool lets you apply not only simple linear stretching of your images, but non-linear stretches as well. Pre- and post- stretch histograms interactively displayed and an ROI preview is available.
    • Digital Development Processing (DDP). A technique to make CCD images look more like film images by using a hyperbolic scaling of the data. Here, the basic technique is enhanced to allow easy darkening of the background at the same time.
    • Star Tightening. A technique to sharpen stars using an edge-detection algorithm (does not leave the artifacts found).
    • Grade a series of images to determine the sharpest / best of the set.
    • Line filter reconstruction for one-shot cameras. Optimized reconstruction of RAW images taken using line filters. General mode plus modes optimized for H-alpha and O-III/H-beta on CMYG arrays.
    • Align and stack a series of images using translation (for equatorially mounted telescopes) or translation + rotation (alt-az or equatorial) or translation + rotation + scaling. Unequal image sizes supported and output either the stack or the individual aligned frames.
    • Drizzle alignment / stacking and resolution enhancement for either equatorial or alt-az (translation + rotation).
    • Colours in Motion: Simultaneous over-sampling alignment/stacking and De-Bayer of one-shot colour images to significantly decrease colour error and increase resolution. For one-shot colour imagers, this improves resolution and reduces colour error.
    • Adaptive scaling of combined data (stacks) to use full 16-bit range (gives you the best features of adding and averaging frames).
    • Average a series of images without alignment (e.g., for combining darks, flats, bias frames, etc.)
    • Tools to set the minimum of an image to zero (useful if a computation has taken it above 65535 and you wish to save the image) and to rescale the intensity of an image (multiply each pixel by a constant.)
    • Colour balance adjust (offset and scaling) with real-time 3-colour histograms for easy, accurate balancing. Luminance extraction provided as well.
    • De-mosaic a RAW one-shot colour image for any of the supported cameras. Both interactive and batch-mode supported.
    • Automatic demosaic of Canon CR2 files with control over white balance for stock and IR-filter modified cameras.
    • Manual De-mosaic of RAW one-shot colour images from RGB or CMYG cameras. Full control over pixel aspect ratio and over colour balancing / mixing during conversion.
    • 2x2 binning of images: addition, averaging, or adaptive.
    • Blurring of images (3-levels).
    • Crop tool.
    • Rotation and mirroring of images.
    • Pixel squaring.
Specification
Model Opticstar DS-616C XL
Sensor Sony ICX413AQ CCD
Sensor format 1.8" (25.10mm x 17.64mm)
Scan mode Interline
Resolution 3032(W) x 2014(H), 6.1 Mega-pixels
Pixel Size 7.8µm x 7.8µm
Green Sensitivity 1200mV max @ 1/30 accumulation maximum (Gain off)
Gain 6.88 dB in hardware, up to 100% sensitivity boost
Overall System Gain 8.5135 e/ADU
Readout Noise 5.7 e
Maximum Level 4095.0 ADU
Full Well Capacity 34863 e (minimum)
Dynamic Range 75.8 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio 45.4 dB
Filter Colour Bayer RGB Mosaic
Exposure control Automatic or Manual
Cooling Thermo-Electric Cooling with fan assist to 30ºC below ambient temperature
ADC 12-bit RGB raw, (16-bit application data)
Optical mount T-mount
Exposure time 1ms to 1 hour
Frame Rate 1 fps @ 3032x2014
Window glass Clear, no Infra Red cut-off
Computer Interface USB 2.0 480Mb/s
Power Requirement 2A 12VDC Mains Power
Mounting T-thread (included)
Dimensions 115mm x 110mm x 95mm
Weight 940 grams
Cooling fan 30mm x 30mm, 5000rpm
Bundled software Nebulosity v2, plug-in for AstroArt, plug-in for MaxIm DL
Operating System Microsoft Windows (64-bit & 32-bit) XP/Vista/7/8/10
All information correct at the time of writing.


Related Products
The Opticstar AG-131M COOLAIR (monochrome) or the Opticstar AG-131C COOLAIR (colour) can be used for auto-guiding when long exposure times are required. Typically, these guide cameras are used in conjuction with a guide scope.
Guide camera.
The Opticstar AG-131 COOLAIR autoguiding kit.

The Opticstar AR80S Guidescope kit consists of the AR80S Gold telescope (80mm, f/5), set of collimating rings and Vixen type dovetail to mount the telescope to standard mount saddles as found on the Sky-Watchers, Celestron CG-5, Vixen and other mounts.
Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
The Opticstar AR80S Guidescope includes collimating rings, dovetail and extension tube.


Notice
We are constantly checking the accuracy of the technical data. We are prepared to provide more detailed information on request. Technical data is subject to change without notice.

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International Customers
International website.
Customers outside the European Union can order Opticstar cameras at our international website: www.opticstar-ccd.com.
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Opticstar News
DS-616C XL is Astronomy Magazine's Star Product
posted: 30th January 2015
Opticstar DS-616C XL is Astronomy magazine's product of the year.
DS-616C XL is Star Product

The Opticstar DS-616C XL deep-sky CCD camera has earned the annual star product award from Astronomy, the world's best-selling astronomy magazine. Read about it in the September 2013 issue.

Willmann Bell
Books for Astronomy
updated: 28th July 2016
Willman Bell books.
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Imaging Brochure
updated: 10th February 2014
Opticstar brochure.
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Read the latest review about the A&M 152mm f/8 A&M/TMB on Cloudy Nights. According to the review this telescope combines the "beauty of a Ferrari" with "fantastic performance". The review also states that "the manufacturer's claims are valid".
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